The ASSC has submitted evidence to the Scottish Government’s Local Government & Communities Committee regarding SSIs laid in Parliament on 14th December 2020:
The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee has asked for evidence in response to the questions below:
Contrary to the current media narrative, short-term lets are not a new phenomenon. Given that the ASSC has acted as the trusted voice of the self-catering sector for over forty years, we are well aware that short-term lets have always formed a crucial supportive part of Scotland’s rich tourism offering.
The self-catering sector generates in excess of £723m of economic activity to Scotland each year. With these figures in mind, it is little wonder that the Scottish Government has welcomed the economic benefits of our sector, a1s well as the development of new models of short-term letting to Scotland.
In January 2020, the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, Kevin Stewart MSP provided a Ministerial Statement to parliament setting out the Scottish Government’s response to their consultation on establishing a regulatory framework for short-term lets. The Minister announced that the Scottish Government would take action in the following three areas:
Review the tax treatment of short-term lets. This will complement the approach taken with the forthcoming TVL Bill, albeit this process has been put on hold in light of Covid-19.
Despite pausing work on the regulations due to Covid-19 back in Easter 2020, and then resuming in July 2020, the Scottish Government are working to their original timescale of having a licensing scheme in place by Spring 2021.
We believe that a licensing system is a blunt tool to fix a perceived and localised problem of amateur operators in Edinburgh, rather than being a solution that is appropriate for the whole of the Scotland, nor is it one that makes a necessary distinction between different types of visitor accommodation providers.
The ASSC remains concerned that little differentiation is made between different types of operator in what is a diverse short-term letting landscape, with potentially dire unintended consequences to the professional self-catering sector that contributes £723m to Scotland.
The ASSC also believe that, due to the impact of Covid-19, the potential pitfalls and shortcomings of licensing come into sharper focus in two main respects: (a) the impact for resource stretched local authorities having to deal with an influx of tens of thousands of licensing applications; and (b) the impact any disproportionate licensing system could have on the recovery of Scottish tourism.